Impacts on species

Whilst many types of waste have more generalised impacts, there are others which have highly specific impacts on particular species or species groups. Many toxins and pathogens have particular effects on certain levels of the food chain. Thus higher predators such as sharks, and long-lived species such as whales, often show very high levels of contamination by toxins. Filter feeders, notably shellfish, also often contain very high levels of toxic and pathogenic contamination. some toxins have highly specific effects on the endocrine systems of particular species or groups.
Although not clearly understood at the present time it has been hypothesised that certain diseases in the marine environment, notably fungal diseases in corals may have originated from land. Dust carried to the Caribbean across the Atlantic has been found to contain fungal spores which are not capable of surviving long-term in the oceans, and yet appear to be responsible for the Aspergillosis disease in gorgonian corals. If this is indeed the case, the process could be natural, however it would appear to be exacerbated by the degradation of land in North Africa which has contributed ever greater amounts of dust to the atmosphere.